broken pieces

seashellsBeach week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I love the quaint wood-covered beach house. I love waking up to sit on the porch and drink a mug of delicious coffee while reading or simply enjoying the morning as the fog rolls away. I love the short walk that can be made barefoot to the sand. I love having beach hair, wearing no makeup, and wearing a swim suit as my main attire. Most of all, I love having family all nestled together in one place.

Earlier this week, my niece Brooke and I delighted in playing where the water meets the sand. We’d sprint up the sand only to turn around and sprint back into the waves. And by waves, I mean where the white wash rushed to the sand. She was hesitant to get wet—probably fearful of being washed away by the powerful monsters called waves. Little by little, she warmed up to the ocean and by the end of the afternoon we were knee deep, jumping and running and tumbling into the water. We also walked along the shore, collecting seashells. I love seashells—always have, always will. It was so fun to see Brooke so enthralled by every shell she came across. She’d yell, “Auntie!!!!! Auntie Pookie!!! Here!!!” as she placed each shell proudly in her sand bucket. What puzzled me for a short moment was how she would pick up EVERY shell: the broken ones, the full ones, the shiny ones, the dull ones. Every. Single. Shell. I thought about it for a few moments, silently. I usually prefer to collect only the whole shells, the most beautiful ones. And as per usual, it led down the path of yet another contemplative life moment.

Life is a lot like seashells, I think. Every day is a new adventure. Every season, the possibility of new memories to be captured and held closely. Life, when seemingly perfect, is to be cherished and the memories collected, like seashells resting on the sand. But that’s the thing about life: there is nothing perfect. No years where there is no heartache and suffering and challenges. If we waited for seasons in which there were no waves—no speed bumps—to enjoy and celebrate and cherish, we’d be waiting forever. That reality is one I have begun to accept and also learn to embrace. When expectations of what life is supposed to look like turn to moments filled with hope and gratitude for what is, that is when we can fully appreciate every season, no matter the waves it brings.

I have always loved picking up and collecting shells for as long as I can remember. The vibrant beautiful shells, colored with coral and orange and blue and silver. I love finding that rare sand dollar that is impeccably round. But this week, Brooke helped remind me that there is a special beauty to the imperfect shells—the broken pieces, the cracked shells, that still contain the most beautiful of colors. And those are to be collected, too. There’s something victorious this week, I have found, in celebrating the passing moments in life where everything is just as it should be, even when it looks nothing like what I planned. Collect the broken pieces, the chipped shells. Don’t be so entranced in the search for the perfectly shaped shells that you miss the beauty of what is in front of you.

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